Saturday, September 26, 2015

What About the Kids who Don't Want to be in School?

When I’m preparing to moderate the weekly twitter chat, #ALedchat (Alabama Education Chat), I try to choose topics that deal with real-life scenarios and situations. The practitioner in me wants to discuss topics that will cause educators, including me, to not only reflect about topics but learn from others' real-life experiences and also have take-aways to put into action.

Last Monday, our topic was What about the kids who don’t want to be in school?” This topic is on my heart and mind a lot, because I’ve worked with students who just really didn’t want to be in school, and I want to find a way to reach EVERY student. Even as we’ve tried everything we can think of, there are a few students who have resisted any and all of our efforts. While we don’t give up on them, we see our efforts make little change in the students’ perception of school and educators, effort and attitude, and/or willingness to build relationships. (In our school of 2900+ students, the percentage of these types of students is very small, but because we have so many students, the actual number of students like this is large enough to be a noticeable size.)

The questions I asked Monday night were:

Q1: Share your experiences in school. Did you want to be there or no?
Q2: Do you think HS Ss who dislike school have always disliked school? Describe why or why not.
Q3: Describe a student who doesn’t want to be at school.
Q4: What can/should schools do when students don’t come from a culture of compliance, which is required in schools?
Q5: What can schools do when students resist connecting with the school (clubs, etc)?
Q6: Is there something that schools need to stop doing that gets in the way of a student wanting to be at school?
Final Question: Share your takeaway from tonight’s chat.

In preparation for the chat, I read an article from ASCD titled "When Students Don't Want to Play the Game." I encourage you to read the entire article, but I had some take-aways from her article. (Emphasis in bold is from me.)
"My current students, on the other hand, don't play the game of school. They do not suffer fools gladly and they do not offer strangers the benefit of the doubt. They broadcast their disengagement through either words or actions." 
"They want to learn, but they want to learn things that matter and in ways that matter to them." 
"When I first encountered my students' widespread disengagement and outright hostility toward me and toward learning, my instinct was to try to establish control. They were challenging my authority, and I went on the defensive, imposing new seating charts, sending students to the office, writing referrals—all responses that provided some breaks from the most distracting and disruptive students but failed to address the underlying issue of their disengagement." 
"When I am effective, I don't meet students where they are just once at the start of the year, or even just at the start of each new unit. I meet them where they are every day, and rarely as an entire class."
What do you think about the author's statements above?
What do you do about students who don't want to be in school? 

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